Stressed Eric

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Half-hour animated comedy which actually wasn't strictly a kids' show at all. In fact the first run went out well after the watershed at 10pm, but the second was promoted to an early-evening slot.

First broadcast in 1998, the series revolved around Eric Feeble, a middle-aged and put-upon man whose life never quite went to plan. Divorced from Liz, he is struggling to bring up his daughter Claire, 8, and son Brian, 10, a task not helped by Claire's many allergies or Brian's habit of putting anything and everything in his mouth. At work (a dull number-crunching job with a soulless property-building conglomerate), he is constantly under the thumb of his boss P.P., hampered by his ineffectual secretary Alison and shown up by co-worker (and next-door neighbour) Ray Perfect. Eric's only ally is his Doctor, who has a knack of turning up just at the right moment to bail Eric out of trouble, but also the infuriating habit of disappearing just as fast, usually with a young blonde lady on his arm. Each episode played out as an accelerating farce, one disaster leading to another until at the end (with one exception) the throbbing vein on Eric's forehead leapt out and strangled him.

The series was an Absolutely production with animation by Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys) and featured a wealth of British voice talent.

Probably the best-remembered episode of the thirteen produced was the third, "Pony", in which the main plot revolved around Claire's wish to own a pony and enter it in a local gymkhana. Packed with superb verbal and visual gags, it built to the single most celebrated moment of the series as Brian secretly feeds the pony (or rather, donkey) an accidentally-discovered miracle elixir, with truly spectacular results.

Episode list

  • Series One (starting 20 April 1998, 10pm on BBC2)
  1. Nativity
  2. Sex
  3. Pony
  4. Hospital
  5. Potato
  6. Tidy
  • Series Two (starting 30 August 2000, 6.45pm on BBC2)
  1. Cricket
  2. Bursting
  3. Team
  4. Tent
  5. Crush
  6. Au Pair
  7. Drool

Series 1 was made in 4:3 and series 2 in 16:9 widescreen. In season one, the opening titles were composed of clips from the series and the theme music was a harsh electric guitar tune. For the second season, the opening titles featured pictures of the all the main characters with captions identifying each one, and the theme was re-arranged in an angular jazz style.

The series was exported to the USA with Hank Azaria replacing Mark Heap as the voice of Eric. Stupidly the US network tried to promote it as Britain's answer to The Simpsons and made wildly exagerated claims about the show's popularity in the UK which it could never hope to live up to. The show was pulled after three episodes, and the complete run of the US edit has only ever been seen as part of a Saturday morning kids' slot in Canada (apparently even episode two, "Sex", was deemed suitable for broadcast as a kids' show, despite revolving around you-know-what). A version dubbed into German also exists.


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